“Nobody Cares” is the title of this venture into the teeming dark underbelly of Gotham City, the irony being in the juxtaposition of a demon who makes people so apathetic they literally lay down and die vs. the Midnight Shift who, in spite of suspicion from Internal Affairs, the death of Sister Justine, and Jim Corrigan’s personal internal battle, are showing up to do their job–a job that nobody else in their right mind would want.
Case in point is this issue where the regular GCPD hand over a creepy assignment to Drake and Tarr, who call in Corrigan to consult while Weaver, who seems to be suffering from PTSD, is (barely) defending them to special investigator Kate Spencer. This team is still minding the dark spiritual needs of their rotten city because they understand that they are all that’s in the way of Gotham succumbing to some pretty terrible boogeymen.
Juan Ferreyra’s work on this title is nothing short of phenomenal. I feel like his figure work in this issue is a little looser, a little less photo-realistic this time around, but I feel like that’s a good shift (be is ever so slight). Last issue I expressed concerns about Ferreyra burning out due to the labor-intensive nature of his painting process and I hope that the looser character work is helping him to keep on top of it–it’s a sound style choice for the book even if efficiency is not the cause for it. The point is, if Ferreyra’s cut some corners in the composition, the book doesn’t look like that’s the case–it’s as beautiful as ever with scenes so gorgeously rendered they can’t help but be evocative. One of the things he plays with compositionally in this issue that I really like is the use of architectural silhouettes as a paneling device. He effectively eliminates the need for cityscape establishing shots by placing the characters within the buildings themselves, the floors becoming the panel dividers. It’s clever without being kitschy. You don’t ever feel like you’ve suddenly entered Tim Burton’s take on Richard Scarry’s world, though I guess there are many who wouldn’t think that was a bad thing.
Storywise, Ray Fawkes gives us some of the sense of the grieving I felt was lacking in the previous episode. Corrigan’s mindful survey of Sister Justine’s room, his conjuring of the words of Saint Augustine, and his heartfelt agony at her loss was very gratifying. It was nice to see Corrigan’s pain in this private moment, as it’s clearly not a side he would ever show to his teammates. We also get to learn much more about Weaver, who is the character who has–up to this time–been the least defined of the group. We learn about his tragic past and get a glimpse into why he struggles so hard in the present.
Corrigan takes some time out for reflection
The Spectre action in this issue is awesome. I love the way it’s contained to the affected houses (the electric wave that courses through the neighborhood is pretty great), and I love that we see the reaction from the outside even as he struggles with the demons within. Ferreyra’s Spectre is freakin’ cool as all get out: terrifying and mysterious and powerful.
Also this book has a brief flashback appearance from Jim Gordon. Because the team remarks that Gordon is no longer around to defend them, I am guessing that might place this book into current continuity. Interesting, that.
Gauche and Ghastly
I didn’t get the sushi remark. The creature looks more viney than squidy (or octopussy). Maybe that was the intention of the reference, but it fell flat for me. Also, creepy Anderson guy looks a little too much like Nimble Jack from Ferreyra’s Colder (with Paul Tobin)–this is a character who already looks a little too much like another DC villain with green hair and a big grin, so I gotta say I’m a wee bit disappointed in his character design. It might be an in-joke and the character will only have a minor role here, but I found it a little too on the nose.
Also, the variant cover with Cyborg toasting marshmallows and Corrigan playing the banjo and the green dog-thing is just….really really weird.
Yeah, that’s all I got on the downside. I love this book! I’m looking forward to seeing how Spencer is going to work with this team (or against it), whether there is any redemption for Rook, and what kind of trouble this creepy Anderson guy is going to make for Corrigan. There are some really interesting developments in this issue overall.
Have I mentioned that Ferreyra’s Spectre transformations are super scary too?
- You love amazing sequential storytelling: Fawkes and Ferreyra have a real tour de force with this book–it absolutely comes alive off the page.
- You want to give yourself the creeps before bedtime: the creative team is making good use of preying on our casual fears.
- You absolutely love Gotham City–both its bright and dark sides.
Maybe one of the best things about Gotham By Midnight is that it’s big on Gotham atmosphere without feeling the need to pander (look everybody: a book in which Harley Quinn hasn’t made an appearance!). Even though I love the brief flashback cameo from Gordon (who wouldn’t?), hopefully this disconnect will last because this is definitely a crew that deserves to stand on its own feet. The Midnight Shift continues to contribute its own interesting layer to the Gotham mythos and if you’re skipping out on this book due to its lack of bat-action, you’re cheating yourself of some very fine comic book entertainment.